All the years of sitting on the couch, eating potato chips and playing videogames has finally paid off – I have made it on to the table tennis team for the London 2012 Olympic Games (the videogame version that is). Yes, it is true; my name is featured in the game as the Australian representative for table tennis. It’s pretty exciting and one of the sweet perks of this job.
A game such as London 2012 is developed for the sole purpose of cashing in on the wave of excitement and hype of an actual event, in this case the Games of the XXX Olympiad. London 2012 isn’t a great game, but isn’t a bad one either. Rather, it’s a fun and enjoyable title that will keep your interest over the duration of the Olympics.
The game includes 31 different events (more if you count the Men and Women events as separate), including swimming and beach volleyball. Most of the events have their own control mechanics, mainly timed thumbstick and button gestures and many are very similar. It also includes stamina and power gauges for events such as running and cycling to eliminate the mindless button mashing of previous track and field titles. An example is the running events, where pushing the gauge over the limit will disrupt the runner.
Timing is the focus for swimming and rowing events, where timing the strokes will power the athlete forward. It’s all about getting into the rhythm of the race. On the other hand, gymnastic and diving events uses controls similar to ones used in old-school dance games, where you press buttons to match the ones on-screen. These events for me were the weakest, as the controls were too simple and not as involved as some of the others. Table Tennis was excellent though. Using the two thumbsticks for movement and hitting along with simple gestures, the ball could be hit with power or with different types of spin. Every event had a different set of controls, and thanks to the simplicity of the controls along with the short tutorials, the game is very easy to play, even for the most novice of gamers.
The game is really for anyone, and that’s important as you’ll want to play this game in a group, as the main downside to this game is the single-player mode. The Olympic Games mode is the campaign mode, where you compete in several events over 10 days. Each day you choose from two events, where you then need to qualify and then compete for a medal in the final. The goal is to win enough medals to top the medal tally for your country. It is fun playing it through the first time, but after completing it once, there really isn’t a reason to go back. Mainly because if you want to try an event that you weren’t able to try, it’s easier to jump into the Event Play mode and create a playlist of the events you want to play. And here, you have the option to compete against other human players.
London 2012 is enjoyed best when playing against other human opponents. The game supports this by including several multiplayer options – Events Play, Party Play and Online Play. Events Play, as I mentioned above, allows for creation of a playlist, which can be played with others. Party Play, which can also be played using motion controls for those with either PlayStation Move or Kinect, allows for players to compete against or with each other. In Online Play, you represent you country against other online players, it’s basically a competition for national pride with the option to jump into a random quick match or set up specific events. It includes a National Pride Rank page to show where your nation is ranked in medals.
Surprisingly, London 2012 is presented quite nicely. Visually, the game is bright and colourful, with nice details on the sporting arenas as well as funky loading screen designs. The Lee Valley White Water Centre, which hosts the Canoe Slalom, is especially impressive. The same can’t be said to describe the athlete models, as they’re the bland generic looking type.
The London 2012 videogame won’t be on your playlist for very long, but if you’re a fan of the genre, I’d rate this game as one of the better games of its kind. It’ll also help you get swept up in the excitement and euphoria of the 2012 Olympic Games, which is what these types of games are all about.